Vladislav Andronov is in his second year of the ŠKODA AUTO PhD Programme. As a student in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague, he focuses on metal 3D printing. Here is a short piece about how he got into our company, about his work within the programme, and about activities during the Coronavirus.
Beginnings in the Tool Shop
I had been thinking about collaborating with ŠKODA AUTO for some time. One of the options was writing my Master’s thesis under the guidance of an expert. I knew that metal 3D printing technology was a topic I wanted to focus on in the future because I believe it has a great potential. There was no similar position on the ŠKODA Career website, so I wrote to the interns recruitment to see if they could help me. On the same day, I discussed my possibilities with the Metallurgical Tool Design Department. They offered me a position where I would solve real problems in the production. As a result of the cooperation, I successfully defended my Master’s thesis entitled "The use of metal 3D printing in the production of molds and tools," on conformal cooling in molds produced by the method of metal 3D printing. I decided to continue with doctoral studies and develop myself in the field of additive technologies. As part of the ŠKODA AUTO PhD Programme, I have also started collaborating with the Casting Tools Production department.
What exactly am I doing?
My job is to ensure the maximum use of the potential of metal 3D printing technology for internal company purposes. We are currently using it for the production of tools for die casting molds with designed conformal cooling for a better heat dissipation and temperature stabilization of parts. We work together to test new materials that are optimized for die casting purposes. We try to optimize each part for technological design, but also with the use of topological optimization for a significant reduction in weight, and thus related costs. We manage the inquiry form to provide for the company's internal needs for 3D printed parts made of metallic materials.
An opportunity that I am very proud to have been offered during my time with the company is the chance to represent ŠKODA AUTO at area group meetings, which are held in Wolfsburg (Volkswagen) and Ingolstadt (Audi). It is a unique opportunity to see the latest technologies in the industry and discuss it with the greatest experts in the field. I am very grateful to the head of our department, Filip Koliáš, for extending this experience to me.
The transition from metallic to plastic 3D printing
Although most of ŠKODA AUTO's activities were suspended due to Coronavirus, I was offered the opportunity to collaborate on coronavirus projects related to 3D printing, this time using plastic. I became part of a team that organized and carried out activities related to the production of protective equipment. The team was made up of colleagues from various departments of the company (Tool Shop, Car Production, Prototype, and Model Construction Department or ŠKODA Vocational school) and especially at the beginning of the project, all members had to demonstrate adaptability when faced with these new tasks. In addition to the printing itself, it was necessary to provide other components of shields, which were sold out in almost the entire country. It was also necessary to ensure packaging and adherence to a minimum 90-hour quarantine for this protective equipment. It was important to comply with legal principles and ensure a smooth delivery of the equipment, which was ensured by the External Affairs Department.
We have produced and handed over more than 1,500 pieces of these protective aids both to internal departments and, for example, to hospitals in Mladá Boleslav or Rychnov nad Kněžnou. Thanks to the possibilities of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Czech Technical University, I had a printer at home on which I made 155 sets of protective shields, face mask clips for greater comfort of employees at work, and door openers to limit the spread of the virus.
Vladislav Andronov, PhD student